restricted access 4. Aifreann 2: Seán Ó Riada
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4 Aifreann 2: Seán Ó Riada 100 Introduction I n this analysis of Seán Ó Riada’s Aifreann 2, focus is maintained on the aesthetic connections between music and words, and mounting evidence attests to a relationship largely free of any referential or emotional ties, but inescapably grounded in the numerical constitution of the text. TheuseofaGregorianframeofreferenceforthemassordinaryiscontinued, one which will prove useful as we ponder the artistic impulse behind some of the settings in a mass commissioned by the Glenstal Benedictines, a community devoted to the practice of Gregorian chant. To the Gregorian framework we may now add as a parallel track the compositional model of the composer’s first mass, Ceol an aifrinn. In the ordinary settings of Aifreann 2, the natural patterns of Irish text-declamation draw from the composer certain rhythmic responses, some of which are new, and others which may be seen to owe much to those established in the earlier mass. As with Ceol an aifrinn, the prose settings of this second mass constitute the primary focus of the analysis, and consideration of these will be followed by a separate section dealing with the hymns. The main question to emerge from the analysis of Aifreann 2, however, relates to modality, and Ó Riada’s selection and inventive working, within an unaccompanied, purely monophonic context (his original score includes no keyboard part) of a structurally interesting tonal terrain. This question will be interpreted through classic and new understandings of mode, as viewed from the standpoints of plainchant and ethnomusicology. Finally, Seán Ó Riada’s second mass setting introduces a number of liturgical elements not dealt with in Ceol an aifrinn. These will be seen to occur in the context of what may be described as a more fully developed conception on the composer’s part of the musico-liturgical roles of the congregation and priest. Contents 1. Iontróid (Críost liom) 2. Kyrie 3. Gloria 4. Alleluia/ Roimh an soiscéal/ Ag deireadh an tsoiscéil 5. Ofráil (hymn: A Íosa bháin) 6. An phreafáid 101 AIFREANN 2: SEÁN Ó RIADA 7. Sanctus 8. Tar éis an choisreachadh 9. Deireadh an phaidir eochairistigh 10. Ár nAthair 11. Agnus Dei 12. Iomann comaoineach (hymn: Gurab tú mo bhoile) 13. Iomann ceiliúrtha (hymn: Beannaigh sinn, a Athair) This mass was commissioned by Dom Paul McDonnell of Glenstal Abbey and was first performed there in 1970 as part of an annual summer congress of religious. The original manuscript contains words and melody only,1 but Ó Riada accompanied the mass on the organ at its first performance and the original score together with a tape recording of the event formed the basis of the only published version of the mass. This edition, published by Tomás Ó Canainn in 1979,2 including a keyboard transcription by Eilís Cranitch is, however, incomplete, omitting as it does the Alleluia/ Roimh an soiscéal/ Ag deireadh an tsoiscéil and An phreafáid. It also contains a psalm setting which is not by Ó Riada but by Ó Canainn himself (included albeit at the request of Dom Paul McDonnell) and a re-publishing of the hymn Bí a Íosa from the Aguisín (Appendix) of the first mass. For the purposes of this study, therefore, attention will be focused on the original Ó Riada vocal score, referring in a general way, where helpful, to the published version. New Liturgical Elements T he Second Vatican Council’s 1967 Instruction on Music in the Liturgy, Musicam sacram, highlighted the pre-eminence in the Roman liturgical tradition of chanted liturgical prayers and dialogues involving priest and congregation.3 As already noted in chapter one, Ó Riada had attended a conference on this document in Glenstal around the time of its promulgation4 and, even as he worked on Aifreann 2, plans were advancing in the broader English vernacular context towards the publication of a new ‘Roman Missal’.5 Glenstal’s respected position in terms of its daily interaction with the musical traditions of the Roman rite and its active interest in the demands of the ‘new’ liturgy were bound to have some influence on the new commission. THE MASSES OF SEÁN AND PEADAR Ó RIADA 102 Ceol an aifrinn had, in fact, contained directions for the singing of the liturgically important Preface together with its dialogue (An phreafáid). Aifreann 2 contains a new setting of the dialogue (there are no directions regarding the delivery of the preface itself), and includes settings for three other important ritual exchanges...


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